Saskatchewan

'I have to learn how to cry': Residential school survivor's experiences subject of documentary

A documentary detailing Noel Starblanket's time in residential school will be airing at the University of Regina on Wednesday evening.

Noel Starblanket went to Lebret Residential School in Saskatchewan

Noel Starblanket prefers to speak generally about his residential school experiences but said he bared his soul for the documentary. (Supplied by Trudy Stewart)

Noel Starblanket said he would bare his soul and recount his experiences in residential schools for a documentary, even if the emotion welling up inside of him felt embarrassing.

"I'm not accustomed to being that kind of emotional," Starblanket told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

"It comes out and I always talk about my experiences as I have to learn how to cry."

Starblanket was one of the thousands of Indigenous children who were taken from their families and forced into Canada's residential school system.

Starblanket's time was spent in Saskatchewan at the Lebret Residential School and his experiences are being detailed in a documentary by Trudy Stewart called From Up North.

"I spent 11 years in an Indian residential school," Starblanket said. "I always recount to students I spent 37 years trying to recover."


Stewart, who is from the Flying Dust First Nation, worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and wanted to document her time with the organization in some way. 

"I think it's very important to hear directly from survivors about their experience," Stewart said.

Stewart described Starblanket as someone she leans on for cultural support and wanted the world to hear his story.

"It's important for people to understand that there's a human being behind all of those stories," she said.

Stewart's documentary is airing Wednesday at the University of Regina's Research and Innovation Centre, located on the main campus. It starts at 7 p.m. CST.

Admission is free but donations are welcome. Proceeds will go toward getting Starblanket to New Zealand, where the film is being screened at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival in June. 

Starblanket said he feels embarrassed when he shows emotion but takes it as a lesson to learn that it's OK to cry. (Supplied by Trudy Stewart)

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition

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